China has more to lose at Doklam, say experts

Bengaluru: “China has more to lose than India if the impasse continues. With Prime Minister Modi at the helm, India won’t take things lightly,” asserted Lt. Gen (retd) V.M. Patil here on Saturday, while speaking at a symposium organised by the Karnataka chapter of the Forum for Integrated National Security (FINS) on “India-China standoff at Doklam – A Strategic Perspective”.

Ambassador N. Parthasarathi, author and journalist Sandeep Unnithan and Lt. Gen (retd) V.M. Patil spoke at the symposium. Mr Parthasarathi provided inputs on the strategic and economic perspectives, author Unnithan on the diplomatic impact and Lt. Gen (retd) Patil on the military perspective.

Mr Parthasarathi said, “China knew very well that Bhutan would protest if it entered Doklam, but it surely did not expect a Prime Minister like Narendra Modi to stand up to this incursion.”

Referring to the 1962 war, Mr Parthasarathi said that India was underprepared and neither the Indian Air Force, nor the Navy was used in the conflict which led to India’s defeat.

“But 2017 is a different issue,” he said. His views were echoed by the other two speakers. Mr Unnithan pointed out how China was encircling India through its ‘String of Pearls policy’.

“It is time we countered China’s ‘String of Pearls’ policy with our own strategy,” said Mr Unnithan, referring to India’s slow pace in implementing its ‘Look East Policy’.

All the speakers agreed that the 21st century belonged to the US, China and India. “India-China, India-US and China-US are going to be the most spoken about relationships in the 21st century,” Mr Unnithan said.

The speakers stressed that this was a test for Xi Jinping as the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is due soon, and President Xi will do his utmost to retain power. 

The speakers also agreed that after October, Doklam starts to freeze which means both sides will have to pull out their troops. This works in India’s favour, said Ambassador Parthasarathi. Lt. Gen (retd) Patil stressed that India is more than capable of countering China and 2017 is much different from 1962. “Yes, China is capable of harassing us and India is capable of giving it back to the Chinese,” he concluded.

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